The Jacksonville Jaguars will travel to New England to take on the Patriots this Sunday in the AFC championship game. Each team won their divisional game in impressive fashion but very different ways. The Patriots easily dispatched the Tennessee Titans 35-14 to mark their 7th straight trip the AFC title game. There was a little drama as Tom Brady suffered a hand injury in practice Thursday but is expected to play for a chance at his 27th playoff victory. Jacksonville upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh in a 45-42 thriller. The two combined for 38 points in the fourth quarter alone with the Jaguars scoring 3 touchdowns. They are now one of four teams left standing after finishing last in this division in 2016 with a 3-13 record.
The Patriots offense was a well-oiled machine last week against the Titans with 437 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tom Brady completed 35 of his 53 passes for 337 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His favorite target was Danny Amendola who had 112 yards on 11 receptions. Rob Gronkowski also had a nice game with 81 yards and a touchdown on 6 catches. Dion Lewis did it all with 79 receiving yards and 61 rushing yards. The offense led the entire NFL in points scored per game with 29 and yards gained per game with 396.8. Defensively, they shut the run game down allowing just 65 yards on 16 carries with 8 tackles for losses. They did not force a turnover but sacked Marcus Mariota 8 times. For the season they were ranked 5th in the league with 18.2 points allowed but ranked 26th with 390 yards allowed.
The Jaguars finished third in the league with 17.4 points allowed but needed all 45 of the ones they put up last week. They gave up 552 yards and six touchdowns to the Steelers and still won. They let Ben Roethlisberger throw for 469 yards and Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown combined for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. They did force two timely turnovers, which they returned for touchdowns each extending their lead. Blake Bortles played well completing 14 of his 28 passes to 9 different receivers. He finished with a passer rating of 94.1 as he threw for 214 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. Leonard Fournette had a monster game with 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jacksonville finished 6th this year with 16.2 points per game and 10th with 359 yards.
The Patriots will have home field advantage and a lot more playoff experience than the Jaguars and are favored by 7.5 points in this game. They have gone 11-5 against the spread this season including 3-5 at home. Brady’s thumb injury doesn’t appear to be enough to keep him out of this one and the loyal fans of Gillette Stadium will be more than ready. The Jaguars have gone 9-7 against the spread including 4-4 on the road. They weren’t expected to beat the Steelers and proved they are capable of an upset.
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